As I age, I have come to the conclusion that there used to be some form of class or just consciousness that existed in society that held basic principles of life, liberty, pursuit to happiness, appreciation for the arts, man-kind, betterment of/appreciation of the human condition and such near and dear. This included things like common decency and the ability to marginalize what I believe to be a cloud of idiocy even in the face of what many would deem arduous duty. It simply had to be done.
Maybe i'm wrong. Maybe I was just extremely fortunate in my upbringing and interest to have butted into stubborn headed elders whom for whatever reason saw the need to make sure I somehow believed this to be the case. Needless to say, in retrospect I very much pity my poor parents. Whom even though seem no worse for the wear can attest to the many battles. Fortunately the war was long ago ended in a series of newly signed treaties and an ever evolving and changing treatise. Which at this point gets summary retractions and addendum during the holidays. I pray often my own off-spring spares me.
In any event, I say this all because I came across an article in today's New York Times on digital humanities. The article in and of itself was of no interest to me. If one is now realizing that having large data sets to look deeper into a subject or topic makes sense then they haven't been practicing proper science. Computers are just tools, i'm not sure what the confusion is all about. What is interesting are the comments http://nyti.ms/9mOwAI. It's amazing to me that people in Humanities or Liberal Arts in general somehow feel that they are of some cloth or class irrespective to man-kind. The same way mathematicians or scientists in general feel as if they are apart of some form of church to which they are the studious acolytes serving the greater master of Truth. To which, they will impart knowledge as and when they see fit. To which, there is one structured way. It would only seem the logical thing to me to work with anyone, from any background if I thought it would further whatever I was interested in. That said there is clearly some insightful commentary, and hopefully more so will be added as the day, week continues.
Dr. Carl Sagan. My favorite humanist. You know why Carl Sagan is such a great mind to me? (I watch his series "Cosmos" at least once a year http://www.amazon.com/Cosmos-Carl-Sagan-DVD-Set/dp/B000055ZOB) He was simply able to impart with knowledge in such a brilliant fashion and he was a humanist! He was a physicist yes, but it is clearly obvious to anyone watching the series that the Physics was just an understanding of the world. To better understand deeper fundamental questions into human existence and our general welfare. If Dr. Carl Sagan was still alive there is no doubt in my mind and I would put my life on it right now. We'd have civilization on the Moon and be figuring out how to get to Mars.
Meanwhile, I seem to recall a time where watching Bugs Bunny I would get to hear Prokofiev or Grieg in the background. Where public works were seen as simply necessary. Where you could actually take piano classes at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music). Where, imparting with knowledge was the glory. All of these things have improved and empowered my life immensely. There are things that I appreciate sheerly because of the subtle exposure. How could I have been so wrong? What happened to these great minds? It's as if they have all passed away during the night leaving no recollection. All i'm left with are a bunch of grown children arguing over what the next Facebook or Twitter will be. How Social Media is great, did I hear about the Facebook email system. All these idiot startups that are solving cut and paste problems. How Google is going to save the world and a bunch of other random nonsense. It's as if it simply will not stop.
Selfishly, I think all of us from every background could really use a healthy dose of this imaginary consciousness I speak of, well imaginary, if it never existed. At least for myself, I really need it. From the responses in that article it looks to me that humanities is in serious trouble and if that is the case that means we all are.
Disclaimer: This post has absolutely nothing to do with where I may spend most of my work hours, any contracts I work on, or any of the in betweens. It's not endorsed in part, in whole or even understood by any party but myself. It is merely a personal observation. There is nothing to discuss in that regard and I'm going to start getting tired of writing these idiot disclaimers every time I say something off-the-cuff which may quite obviously unintentionally offend someone. So, just take it as my general position unless otherwise noted.